Yesterday morning, I got a call from a friend in North Carolina that is close to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association telling me that Billy was now gone. I watched the next few hours for the news to come in to confirm it. It was not long before everyone from Charisma to Fox News was picking it up. The question that many do not want to ask: what does this mean for us today?
If you do not know the story of the young preacher from North Carolina, you would not know that it was a extended evangelistic meeting in Los Angeles that put him on the national stage. He become an iconic image of evangelism for the era, especially among Southern Baptists. I would put him in the company of Oral Roberts and Reinhard Bonnke for a discussion of well known evangelists.
The impact of his message that every man or woman must be born again is something that was thundered from the stadiums of America and and around the world. While his message clearly lacked miraculous power, it is simple and it was profoundly biblical.
While many could easily jump on the “Billy Graham does not preach the gospel of the Kingdom” bandwagon; I believe that is a misplaced discussion. Salvation is the centerpiece of life in the Kingdom. It is not wrong, it is just incomplete.
The Billy Graham Connection to revival
While many would not really consider that he had a part in the healing revival of the 1950’s, he actually did. He was the evangelical poster child and their answer to the growing healing tent revivals of that era with people like Jack Coe, A.A. Allen and Oral Roberts. In fact, he spoke several times at Oral Roberts University which might surprise a few people. The truth is that while Graham was not Pentecostal and even made some anti-Pentecostal statements over the years, he was very much a part of the healing revival era.
The time after the second World War was a time of the nation ready for harvest. It is a great time for the Baptists that Billy Graham was part of and it was a great time for Pentecostals preaching the healing message of Jesus. In the end, millions of people came to Christ through the evangelistic era of the mid 20th century.
I firmly believe that he reached people that quite honestly that were not reaching able the tent revivalists and their miracle message. At the end of the day, many people who are not leaders in the Pentecostal movement came to Christ at events similar to the ministry of Billy Graham.
Having studied that era of church history in depth, I do not believe that he was as against Pentecostals as some have been led to believe because of some random clips on YouTube. There is no question that is he stood on the other of the “once saved/always saved” discussion but he was not the nicer version of John McArthur, either.
The seed is sown, the mantle has fallen
On March 12, 1947; Smith Wiggleworth passed away. As a result, there was a sowing of the mantle that no one could pick up by themselves. What happened was there become dozens of healing ministries similar to Brother Wigglesworth that started all over the world. Some of them were biblical faithful and some were not much. However, there a great healing revival which months of the passing of Smith Wigglesworth.
In 1994, Leonard Ravenhill went to Heaven. Within a matter of months, one of the people that he invested heavily into at the end of his life, Steve Hill was used in revival. He came to Brownsville Assembly of God for one meeting and left five years later. The result was the Brownsville Revival. It was in this move of God that I was born again.
Today, we are reminded of a prophetic word that a great harvest could be at hand when Oral Roberts and Billy Graham has passed away. I realize people will question the accuracy of Benny Hinn as I laid out above, there is a historical example of this happening both in the 1950’s and in 1990’s. I believe the harvest could very well at hand if the people of faith will grab their sickles and reap what the generation of Graham and Roberts have given us.
While the conception of apostolic succession is questionable at best, there is something to be said to receiving the inheritance of the last generation. They can not do the harvest for us but they can train and prepare the next generation for their hour of ingathering. Every generation must harvest their peers!
Importance of spiritual inheritance
The main leaders of the healing revival are gone. Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, Gordan Lindsey and R.W. Schambach are all among those who have left this world. They have dropped the mantle and the seed has been sown. I spoke of the need for impartation before departation in 2003 when I wrote Spread the Fire and since them a long list of major leaders from the last great evangelism era have checked into Heaven.
It is important that we hear the stories of the people who witness the glory days of the healing revival. There is still old Pentecostal grandmas hidden in our churches where saw the miracles, the supernatural events and masses come to the saving knowledge of Christ as young adults. They have a story, a song and a word. It is critical that we hear them. Testimony of God’s power carry prophetic ability to release for another wave of revival and evangelism.
I would be amissed if I did not end this prophetic article with a call for prayer for Paul Cain. No matter where you stand on his prophetic ministry; he is, to my knowledge, the only remaining leader that was directly involved in the evangelism era of the 20th century. There are stories that he knows that we need to hear for historical and testimonial purposes. Paul’s health is failing and when he is gone, the opportunity to learn about the greatest harvest since the Moravian movement is officially closed shut!
Enjoy your crowns to throw down, Billy Graham